Selected “firsts” in Glendale: the first Apple Store, the first Lego store, the first Bob’s Big Boy. Add to the list a new take on Pops: The stellar performances and original arrangements Matt Catingub has produced at the Alex Theatre in Glendale are now being sought by concert venues around the country. Scheduling the 2014 Glendale Pops season was difficult because of his busy schedule as well as the Alex Theatre remodeling closure.
Catingub has created and directed Pops programs at the Alex for five years now. I’ve been at all of these concerts, and without exception they’ve been great musical experiences, as well as a lot of fun.
Glendale Arts aimed right past the Great Recession in 2009, without shrinking its mission at all. It started an original orchestra and hired Catingub, a Grammy Award winning arranger and musician, to create a new Pops “brand” for the community and a draw to downtown Glendale.
Getting a great orchestra together was easy: Catingub is either well known by or long-time friends with every professional musician in town. He easily signed up top instrumentalists happy to work with him on very short notice. And while the older Alex stage wasn’t ideal, these studio musicians can clearly play beautifully anytime and anywhere!
Matt Catingub delivered great performances that first year and every year since. In May 2011, The Premiere at the Alex featuring the renamed Glendale Pops thrilled an audience of sophisticated locals and set a clear direction.
The Pops per-service orchestra performed then and now as a “labor of love.” They clearly relish playing great music with good friends. Catingub’s credentials have also made it possible to book top-name guest talent. Kenny Loggins, David Benoit, and Monica Mancini all came to give previews of the first regular season at the Premiere. Catingub talked about the beginning of the orchestra in this Glendale Arts interview:
Back to my memories: In 2011, sponsors hosted two free summer concerts at The Americana at Brand to promote the season. We already had our season tickets, entitling us to reserved seats on the Green.
“Summer Night Swing” in July featured Patti Austin and Tierney Sutton. “Bossa Nova on Brand” in September featured jazz singer Teka and guitarist Kleber Jorge, and was almost the perfect close to the summer. The evening was clear and warm, Teka sang the timeless “Girl from Ipanema,” and the orchestra nailed Catingub’s original arrangement of “One Note Samba” (and every other composition!). It would have been absolutely perfect if the family sitting right behind us had left their noisy, kicking toddler at home with a sitter…please, people! Even with periodic kicks to our chairs, we enjoyed listening to great creative talents clearly in their stride.
Catingub can do it all, except play every instrument at the same time. He creates a strong musical program for each of the concerts, with innovative arrangements the orchestra can deftly interpret. He greets the audience with laid-back style and humor, sings with a clear and mellow voice, and plays the saxophone or piano effortlessly while conducting. His strides with the performers, the musicians, and the instruments are a joy to watch during a live performance.
Those who bought tickets for that first regular season were well-rewarded. Guest artist David Benoit was a highlight of the HolidayPop concert in December. He took me and many others back in time to when The Charlie Brown Christmas Special was eagerly anticipated on network TV. I loved the kids-in-action tune “Linus and Lucy,” and hearing David Benoit dub Schroeder and local talent recruited for the Glendale Pops Youth Choir sing “Christmas Time is Here.”
Kenny Loggins brought a classic rock sound, and a packed theatre full of fans, to the February 2012 concert. Completing the season was smooth jazz sensation Dave Koz, hitting every high trumpet note while jumping across the stage, and Monica Mancini singing the campy “It Had Better Be Tonight” from The Pink Panther.
From 2009, to the Glendale Pops official first season in 2011 to the present, these concerts have been great crowd pleasers in Glendale. With the recession over, and strong demand for the Catingub’s Pops programs, it was work to get three great concerts booked for 2014. Season tickets and sponsorships are available now! Put these concerts on the calendar and see the Glendale Pops at the Alex:
Saturday, April 11: Fusion – Jazz that Rocks
Saturday, May 10: Hidden Treasures with vocalist Carole Welsman
Saturday, June 21: An Evening with Martin Short